Developing Custom SQL Queries

Service Builder’s finder methods facilitate searching for entities by their attributes–their column values. Add the column as a parameter for the finder in your service.xml file, run Service Builder, and it generates the finder method in your persistence layer and adds methods to your service layer that invoke the finder. But what if you’d like to do more complicated searches that incorporate attributes from multiple entities?

For example, consider the Nose-ster Event Listing portlet you’ve been developing in this chapter. Suppose you want to find an event based on its name, description, and location name. If you recall, the event entity refers to its location by the location’s ID, not its name. That is, the event entity table, Event_Event, refers to an event’s location by its long integer ID in the table’s locationId column. But you need to access the name of the event’s location. Of course, with SQL you can join the event and location tables to include the location name. But how would you incorporate custom SQL into your portlet? And how would you invoke the SQL from your service? Service Builder lets you do this by specifying the SQL as Liferay custom SQL and invoking it in your service via a custom finder method.

Liferay custom SQL is a Service Builder-supported method for performing complex and custom queries against the database. Invoking custom SQL from a finder method in your persistence layer is straightforward. And Service Builder helps you generate the interfaces to your finder method. It’s easy to do by following these steps:

  1. Specify your custom SQL.

  2. Implement your finder method.

  3. Access your finder method from your service.

Next, you’ll do exactly this to create and invoke custom SQL in your Event Listing portlet.

Step 1: Specify Your Custom SQL

After you’ve tested your SQL, you must specify it in a particular file for Liferay to access it. Liferay’s CustomSQLUtil class looks up custom SQL from a file called default.xml in your portlet project’s docroot/WEB-INF/src/custom-sql/ folder. You must create the custom-sql folder and create the default.xml file in that custom-sql folder.

The default.xml file must adhere to the following format:

    <sql id="[fully-qualified class name + method]">
    SQL query wrapped in <![CDATA[...]]>
    No terminating semi-colon

You can add a custom-sql element for every custom SQL query you’d like for your portlet, as long as each query has a unique ID. The convention we recommend using for the ID value is the fully-qualified class name of the finder followed by a dot (.) character and the name of the finder method. More detail on the finder class and finder methods is in Step 2.

For this example, you’ll use the following ID value for the query:


Custom SQL must be wrapped in character data (CDATA) for the sql element. Importantly, the SQL must not be terminated with a semi-colon.

Following these rules, specify the custom SQL for this query by replacing the contents of the default.xml file with the following code:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <sql id="com.nosester.portlet.eventlisting.service.persistence.EventFinder.\
        SELECT Event_Event.*
        FROM Event_Event
        INNER JOIN 
            Event_Location ON Event_Event.locationId = Event_Location.locationId
            ( LIKE ?) AND
            (Event_Event.description LIKE ?) AND
            ( LIKE ?)

Make sure to delete the backslash (\\) character from the end of the ID so that the finder method name findByEventNameEventDescriptionLocationName immediately follows the package path specified below:


Now that you’ve specified some custom SQL, the next step is to implement the finder method. The method name for the finder should match the ID you just specified for the sql element.

Step 2: Implement Your Finder Method

It’s time to implement the finder method to invoke the custom SQL query. This should be done in the service’s persistence layer, since it’s SQL invoked on a relational database. You’ll rely on Service Builder to generate the interface for it. But before you do that, you need to create the implementation of the finder.

The first step is to create a -FinderImpl class in the service persistence package. Create a class called EventFinderImpl in the com.nosester.portlet.eventlisting.service.persistence.impl package. Make the class extend BasePersistenceImpl<Event>. Your file should now have the following contents:

package com.nosester.portlet.eventlisting.service.persistence;

import com.liferay.portal.service.persistence.impl.BasePersistenceImpl;
import com.nosester.portlet.eventlisting.model.Event;

public class EventFinderImpl extends BasePersistenceImpl<Event> {


Run Service Builder to generate the -Finder interface and the -Util class for the finder. Service Builder generates the EventFinder interface and the EventFinderUtil utility class based on the EventFinderImpl class. Modify your EventFinderImpl class to have it implement the EventFinder interface you just generated:

public class EventFinderImpl extends BasePersistenceImpl<Event>
    implements EventFinder {


Now you can create our finder method in your EventFinderImpl class. Add the following finder method and static field to the EventFinderImpl class:

public List<Event> findByEventNameEventDescriptionLocationName(
    String eventName, String eventDescription, String locationName,
    int begin, int end) {
    Session session = null;
    try {
        session = openSession();

        String sql = CustomSQLUtil.get(
        SQLQuery q = session.createSQLQuery(sql);
        q.addEntity("Event_Event", EventImpl.class);

        QueryPos qPos = QueryPos.getInstance(q);  
        return (List<Event>) QueryUtil.list(q, getDialect(), begin, end);
    } catch (Exception e) {
        try {
            throw new SystemException(e);
        } catch (SystemException se) {
    } finally {

    return null;

    EventFinder.class.getName() +

Remember to import the required classes. These include the following:


The custom finder method opens a new Hibernate session and uses Liferay’s CustomSQLUtil.get(String id) method to get the custom SQL to use for the database query. The FIND_BY_EVENTNAME_EVENTDESCRIPTON_LOCATIONNAME static field contains the custom SQL query’s ID. The FIND_BY_EVENTNAME_EVENTDESCRIPTON_LOCATIONNAME string is based on the fully-qualified class name of the -Finder interface (EventFinder) and the name of the finder method (findByEventNameEventDescriptionLocationName).

Awesome! Custom SQL is in place and your finder method is implemented. Next, you’ll call the finder method from your service.

Step 3: Access Your Finder Method from Your Service

So far, you created a -FinderImpl class and generated a -FinderUtil utility class. However, your portlet class should not use the finder utility class directly; only a local or remote service implementation (i.e., -LocalServiceImpl or -ServiceImpl) in your plugin project should invoke the -FinderUtil class. This encourages a proper separation of concerns: the portlet classes invoke business logic of the services and the services in turn access the data model using the persistence layer’s finder classes. So you’ll add a method in the -LocalServiceImpl class that invokes the finder method implementation via the -FinderUtil class. Then you’ll provide the portlet and JSPs access to this service method by rebuilding the service.

Add the following method to the EventLocalServiceImpl class:

public List<Event> findByEventNameEventDescriptionLocationName(String eventName,
    String eventDescription, String locationName, int begin, int end)
throws SystemException {
    return EventFinderUtil.findByEventNameEventDescriptionLocationName(
        eventName, eventDescription, locationName, begin, end);

After you’ve added this method, run Service Builder to generate the interface and make this finder method available in the EventLocalServiceUtil class.

Now you can indirectly call the finder method from your portlet class or from a JSP by calling EventLocalServiceUtil.findByEventNameEventDescriptionLocationName(...)!

Congratulations on following the 3 step process in developing a custom SQL query and custom finder for your portlet!

Next you’ll tour through the file that Service Builder generates.

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